By: E&P Staff
Overcoming adversity to fashion compelling journalism on a national tragedy that was all too local, The Times-Picayune of New Orleans won two Pulitzer Prizes, for Public Service and Breaking News, announced Monday. In an article posted on the paper’s Web site — which played such a key role in its reporting and in its Pulitzers wins — Editor Jim Amoss and Publisher Ash Phelps hailed the victory.
“Katrina, the greatest urban disaster in America, dealt tragedy and bitter loss to our community and everyone in this room,” Amoss told several hundred staff members in the newsroom after the awards announcement.
“As our city was being ravaged, our citizens dying, our market destroyed, our homes lost, with chaos and lawlessness reigning — while this was happening, we came together as a team,” Amoss said, “and fulfilled a mission that is sacred to us: to publish no matter what — no matter whether our house was destroyed, whether we knew what had happened to our families, or what the future held….
“If anyone doubts the value of a daily newspaper, ask the readers of The Times-Picayune,” Amoss said, according to the Times-Picayune account. “They will tell you what it means to have news from your hometown, brought to you by reporters, photographers, graphic artists, columnists, editorial writers and editors who know their backyard, understand the complexity of our situation and are driven by a passion for this place and this story.”
Amoss had been honored as E&P “Editor of the Year” back in February.
“I remember being in this room on the Tuesday after Katrina hit, and Jim Amoss told our team, ?This will be the biggest story of our lives,’ “said Phelps, president and publisher of The Times-Picayune. “He was right. And our team rose to the occasion.
“Many people have asked me, ‘What did you learn from Katrina about Hurricane planning?’ ” Phelps said. “I recently told newspaper publishers from across the country the best advice: Hire talented, tough and totally dedicated employees who will put the newspaper first at a time of major personal challenge.’ That’s what we had done — and it paid off.”
The article also revealed that in a written message to the staff, Donald Newhouse, president of Advance Publications, offered his congratulations to the staff of the paper.
“During the horrific events of the storm and flood and their aftermath, you were and are magnificent,” Newhouse wrote to the staff. “What you did and are doing is immensely important for the people and the community you serve. The two Pulitzer Prizes affirm your excellence, your sacrifices and your heroism. My family and I are thrilled to be your associates.”